Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Final Thoughts

"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 1
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 2
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 3
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 4-5
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 6
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 7
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 8
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 9
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 10-11
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 12
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 13
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 14
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 15
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 16
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 17
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 18
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Final Thoughts


An important key to reading is to not treat all books equally. Some books are not worth your time. Others are worth only a cursory read. While still others are worth a careful investment. Then there are those books that are worth a slow, methodic study. Dr. Richard Bauckham's book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony fits in this last category. For sixteen weeks, I slowly blogged through this important work from one of the world's leading New Testament scholars and below are a few final thoughts to sum it all up.

Strengths

1. The book is timely and its conservative argument is desperately needed. The notion that the Jesus narratives in the New Testament are mythical or legendary is propagated in popular culture regularly. Likewise, many of those scholars see no real difference in the reliability and importance between the canonical Gospels and the Gnostic Gospels. Bauckham destroys these ideas. No liberal scholar should be taken seriously in making their assertion without first interacting with the arguments of this book.

2. Bauckham offers a strong thesis. In almost every chapter, the author returns to reassert his thesis: the Gospels are the result of eyewitness testimony. Each chapter defends that thesis.

3. Every major argument is thoroughly defended. This requires Bauckham to at times dive deep into difficult issues. Yet by the time Bauckham comes out on the other side, it is always worth it.

4. As a pastor, there is one very strong implication of Bauckham's work: thus saith the Lord. Everytime I stand in the pulpit, how can I know that the text that stands before me is true? Works like this one go a long way of strengthening my faith and doctrinal convictions.


Weaknesses

1. At times the book is too technical. Bauckham is a scholar and is writing an academic work. That is not my complaint here. There are times when the book dives deeper than might be necessary. The detail and depth he offers might at times be better served in an academic journal where such exploration is expected. It is easy for, even educated readers, to get lost in the weeds. As a result, the audience is limited. Only those with or working on a degree in New Testament or theological studies will be able to navigate through this book.

2. There are a few arguments I simply disagree with. I will not rehash them here. Those areas of disagreement are explored more in previous posts.

3. Surprisingly, Bauckham said virtually nothing about the Q Document. It seems strange to dedicate a number of chapters to form criticism and an entire book to the writing of the Gospels without interacting with this source hypothesis. Anymore, Q is presumed and I found it strange that Bauckham barely mentioned it.

4. Likewise, I am surprised there was not a chapter regarding the historicity of the resurrection. Perhaps this would have led Bauckham down a rabbit's trail, but the resurrection is the climax of each of the four Gospels.  It would seem to me that more could be said about eyewitnesses testimony regarding the Passion narrative and the resurrection.


Conclusion

Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough. Although I could not recommend a new believer in my congregation to pick it up due to its academic nature, I do believe it is an invaluable tool for pastors and scholars. The argument is important for the Christian faith and in the end, our doctrine of Scripture and faith in Christ is strengthened.


For more:
"The Historical Jesus": A Lecture by Ben Witherington
"The Story of Jesus" Documentary
We've All Heard This Before: "Zealot" and the Same Search For the Missing Jesus  
12 Proofs of Jesus' Deity From the Synoptic Gospels
Ravi Zacharias' 12 Arguments For the Historicity of the Resurrection
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
"Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock: A Review
NT Wright: Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
"The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster: A Review
"The Case for Easter"
"The Case For the Real Jesus" by Lee Strobel
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
The Quest For the Historical Satan: The Entire Series
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